CoST Malawi identifies 262% cost overrun on road scheme

CoST Malawi has identified a 262% or over 3bn Malawi Kwacha (USD 7.4m) cost increase on the rehabilitation of the Nkhotakota - Msulira Road. The Ministry of Transport and Public Works has since cancelled the contract on the 33km road due to poor performance.

The assurance report showed that recent investments in public infrastructure have been subject to the waste of billions of Malawi Kwacha, with the worst cases being seen in government funded projects.

Assurance is a central tenet of CoST, as it checks the level of compliance with the CoST disclosure requirements and raises issues of concern with the public. Malawi's latest assurance report examined 28 projects, covering the upgrading of over 600km of road, the construction of more than 700 houses and the supply of many kilometres of pipelines and cabling.  Access to all of these is essential to the daily lives of Malawi's citizens.

The report uncovered many cases of delays and suspension of work, particularly within those projects funded by the Malawi government, as opposed to those funded by external donors such as a The World Bank and European Union.  Delays not only cause undue length of time in completing a project, but also lead to further cost overruns.  For example, the erosion of roads during suspension time means that additional work has to be done once the project is finally restarted. 

Joe Ching’ani, CoST Malawi MSG Chair, was realistic about the report's findings: 

'The level of waste identified on these infrastructure projects is a bitter pill to swallow.  However, the fact the Ministry of Transport and Public Works has taken action on the Nkhotakota Msulira road demonstrates the value of CoST in helping to open up the process to the public.  '

Petter Matthews, Director of CoST's International Secretariat, praised Malawi for its work in bringing the issues to light:

‘The Ministry of Public Works has acted decisively in stopping this project and preventing further waste. Their actions send a powerful message to those involved in delivering public infrastructure - the waste of public money on such a vast scale will no longer be tolerated. In the longer term, this approach, supported by CoST, will help to create the conditions that prevent such problems occurring in the first place.'

Entry into Nkhotakota game reserve from Nkhotakota to Msulira Road

Date Published: 6 October 2014
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